It's time to get romantic and jubilant as The top 8 tackle the rumba and the jive on this week's Dancing with the Stars. Who had the chemistry down and who fell flat? Find out below.
This is the halfway point in the competition, which means less clothing! For the ladies! Is Julianne going to work the street corner after this? Damn. Well, Gilles can't have all the attention, right? This is the last week of one-dance-per-dancer, so let's relish it.
As an added bonus for all of you, we are featuring fallen Season 8 contestant Nancy O'Dell's take on all the dances and her predictions. If you've frequented the Dancing blog, you may have seen her general thoughts on the season already, but as we get down to the wire, it's time to get more specific too.
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower: Jive
Chelsie's trying to unwind Ty, but he doesn't know what part to loosen up, so she brings in a trampoline. I have never seen a person look more lost with a trampoline. Just jump, dude. Don't ask how high. They've finally brought out the cowboy get-up! This is gonna rock already. Except it doesn't. Ty looks like he's about three speeds behind Chelsie and just learned how to walk, much less dance. He is still beyond charming and so aw-shucks that you can forgive him for any misstep. Or 20. Len appreciates that he tries, but it wasn't that good. Bruno says he's a wild animal and also a gentleman. You don't find those a lot. Carrie Ann thinks it was exciting, but tough to watch.
Nancy says: They didn't bring it up, but I thought he forgot a little bit of the routine. So I was like, "Am I watching the same show?" I thought there was a little bit of a square dance in there. I think they still really like him and you still kind of pull for him. He seems so darn naïve and sweet.
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas: Rumba
Shawn told me she's "scared to death" about this, but I feel like she's going to rock it. She feels self-conscious and out of her comfort zone with the romantic rumba. Mark being a tool probably doesn't help. He eventually decides to throw her a prom since a) she's missing it this year and b) it will help her get into character. Aww. I need an insulin shot to deal with all this sweetness. Shawn's giving Lil Kim a run for her money with her gamely gams. The faux prom helped a little bit because you can tell she's trying to stick with the character. Her extensions, though, are gorgeous and the dance, while not sensual, is romantic in a Jonas Brothers-song kind of way. I'd usually say that's a bad thing, but it's good in this case. I think this is a totally age-appropriate yet mature routine for her, so big ups to Mark. Bruno loves the innocence and the hint of the devil and wants more hip movement (I think her Grecian-style dress was designed to hide the lack thereof). Carrie Ann understands that it's difficult for her but thinks they came alive in the middle. Len thinks they got it just right.
Nancy says: I found it a little odd. I thought she did a great job with it, but the music was so mature. It looked kinda wrong, like she shouldn't have been doing the rumba. She did it great! She has that cute little innocent face that it just seems wrong. I think Mark did a great job with the choreography, but it was just the rumba in general. It wasn't one of my favorites of theirs and I love Shawn. The prom was so cute. That won over the country!
Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska: Jive
LT said the dance-off was a nightmare. This is his way of showing he cares. He can't get into the jive now and can't fake the smile on his face. Um, has he ever had a smile? Along comes Warren Sapp to lighten the mood. Edyta has no idea WTF is going. I think her legs are more covered than the upper half of her body. Nothing new, I guess. Plus, we all know leg-warmers are anything but new. What is new? LT can move. Somewhat. His footwork's still a little heavy, but he's moving more than Ty was, so that's something. But more importantly, he actually looks like he's enjoying this. I never thought we'd see the day. Blame Warren. Carrie Ann says he's got his groove back. Len appreciates the different side in his personality. Bruno wants Warren attached to him from now on. Backstage, LT admits Warren reminded him to have fun. And what have you been doing the past few weeks, Edyta?
Nancy says: He did seem like a completely different person after Warren came on. I think it's what Warren told him: This is supposed to be fun. He was likeable and did a good job. My husband missed that dance. He was watching WWE. He missed Warren Sapp and Lawrence Taylor!
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: Rumba
Tony wants her to pretend there's a 10-karat diamond on her ring finger. Except it's empty. Good job, Tony. As punishment, he has to wear a tie-dyed version of Mark's see-through bedazzled shirt. Tramp-stamp cover-up sequin this week is a flower. And there's also one in her hair! That's planning, people. Anyhow, Melissa looks like she's trying way hard to get into character and yet still can't feign love for Tony. They look really steamy, but I don't really feel any chemistry between them. It's basically how I feel about any Sarah Jessica Parker on-screen coupling. The movements look really hard and sharp for a rumba. Unlike last week, though, she's pulling them off cleanly. It was a decent effort, but I still feel like something's lacking. Len likes the choreography, but wants it more earthy and less balletic. Bruno likes her contortionist body, or something. He wants Melissa the Maneater next. Carrie Ann loves the emotional quality, but wants her hips moving.
Nancy says: They looked fantastic. ... I loved at the end when she pushed him away. I think she was trying not to laugh. He is a goofball in rehearsal. That's probably why she did that.
Lil Kim & Derek Hough: Jive
Derek thinks Kim can overtake Gilles with her "edge" this week, meaning '50s-style cars. I suddenly have a craving for Johnny Rockets. Ms. Federal Detention Center is rockin' a jailhouse theme (get it?). Love! The routine is snappy, snazzy, dynamic and so full of life that you'd think Kim really did have this much fun behind bars. I don't really see that many jive steps here, however. It kind of looks more like a freestyle. Where are all those kicks and stuff (yeah, stuff!)? They seem to be performing just for the sake of performing. I have to say Kim has the perfect personality for this show. She gets a rowdy standing O from the audience, which includes Queen Latifah, aka Mama Morton herself. Coincidence? I think not. Bruno wants her to arrest him and frisk him. Save it for after the show. Carrie Ann lost jewelry in her jubilance. Calm down, guys. Len finds it too theatrical and not really a jive. And the wind just left their sails.
Nancy says: She was great. She was very entertaining. I was out of breath for her. It was an active routine and she was, like, twirling Derek around!
Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer: Rumba
Steve-O's going to give his fans all the love he's got. And himself. But not Lacey. His farts smell like mildew, by the way. Steve-O can't be romantic with Lacey, so she brings in his pup, Boogie. So he has to picture Lacey as a bitch. I mean, dog. I thought Lacey was wearing workout shorts, but it's actually granny panty lingerie. Lacey in lace would be too obvious, people! This is... what it is. There still isn't much improvement, but Steve-O's a trooper and there is something endearing and, dare I say, romantic about this dance. The most cringe-worthy parts, however, are when he's standing still and takes one awkward step off-beat. Sigh. "A" for effort, right? Carrie Ann thinks he's oddly mesmerizing and admires his commitment. Len can't be kind and says it's no good. Bruno loves racy Lacey, but not puppy-eyed Steve-O.
Nancy says: I thought Steve-O was really good! [There was something] romantic about it - like Carrie Ann said, "oddly mesmerizing." I was very disappointed they didn't give him higher kudos. I honestly thought he not only looked like he did a good job, but he looked so much more comfortable and less stiff. I don't know. I was kind of bummed about that one. I Twittered how well everyone was doing and the judges start criticizing!
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke: Jive
No more sexy time for Gilles. He has to show his teeth now and look cool. But he's not cool. No, just sexy... and a soccer stud. He's clothed this week, a little bit. How much does a leather vest count? This is incredibly goth for a jive... and a little too fast. Gilles wasn't kidding when he said Cheryl stuffed this with 400 or so moves. If this is Cheryl's way of upping the ante, it's not a good idea. I'm getting a headache watching this, or maybe it's from the lighting. He's still rockin' and attacking the dance, though, and I appreciate the little solos Cheryl always puts in for Gilles every week. Len thinks it's too frantic and noticed a misstep. Bruno thinks he's close to reaching the speed of light as a mad squirrel. Carrie Ann calls him out on the awkward arm movements. It's his shoulder injury, he says.
Nancy says: They just ruled the dance floor. Just give him the Mirrorball now. I'm just wondering if they just switched up [the scores on the leader board] a little bit to make it a competition!
Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough: Rumba
Chuck told me he thinks this will be his breakthrough dance because the love's already there, ya know. Things got too heated and unromantic in rehearsals, so Julianne takes him back to the site of their first date at the Santa Monica pier and they re-kiss their first kiss. "It's so good to be your girl right now." Who writes this stuff? After the schmaltz, they're ready to dance, lace and all. Chuck's got the black lace version of Mark's shirt. Julianne just borrowed something from Heidi Fleiss. I hate the frantic head-turning and hair-tussling combo that's supposed to constitute sensuality. It's a turn-off, if nothing else. Unfortunately for Chuckie boy, this is not going to be his breakout dance. Cognizant of the chemistry talk on the line, they both seem to be trying really hard with the "raw emotion" and it's coming off artificial. I'm sure they do have chemistry when the cameras are off, but I'm not sure that's ever going to make it to the dance floor at this point. And if that's Chuck's sexy face, I definitely don't want to be his girl. Yeesh. He's kind of on and off throughout the whole thing, and he's bringing the "emotion" at the expense of his technique. Bruno loves the raunch factor, but wants him to work on his footwork. Carrie Ann's getting hot flashes. But it could also be menopause. Len thinks the dance was better suited for the bedroom. Oh, uptight Brits!
Nancy says: They put them at the end. I thought this will be the dance that brings him around and I thought it was. Poor Len - I think it was just the outfit Julianne was wearing. It was a little bedroom-ish. When they got all romantic, my husband told me this week I would've had to withdraw. I really liked it. Chuck was one of my favorite ones. I think they did show they have chemistry. It's a more romantic dance, kind of a sexual dance.
I didn't do so well last week! This is the only reason I'm going to say this, but I'm worried about Ty because I think the people that start [the show], [voters] forget to vote for them. But I do think people love him. ... I'm gonna go with Lawrence and Ty. I think Steve-O has a bigger fan base. Lawrence did so much better, but I think he will go home. I think a lot of people have championed Ty. Lawrence did well, so this is a strategic decision that's not based on dancing. My husband is going to be very upset about this!